NEETs Trapped in the Vicious Circle of Labor Market: A Critical Overview of the European Union and Greece

NEETs Trapped in the Vicious Circle of Labor Market: A Critical Overview of the European Union and Greece

Olga Papadopoulou (Independent Researcher, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2779-5.ch002
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This chapter provides an overview of the situation of those young individuals who are Not in Employment, Education, or Training (NEET) for the years of 2008-2018. The chapter examines the evolution of NEET rates, shortly after the Great Recession and for a decade, in the European Union in total and then by gender and educational level. A special focus is given to Greece, an ideal case study, since crisis transformed the national labor market, revealing signs of insecurity. Last but not least, special attention will be given toward measures of reformation of labor market policy as a means of responding to the emerging situation of NEETs.
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Introduction 1

Issues related with labor market are becoming poignant in an even integrated Europe and an ever globalizing world. Alongside the recent years, the situation is exacerbated because of the severe economic crisis and the ensuing recession, which is broadly known as Great Recession and it is the fourth major global crisis, after those of 1870, 1930 (the well - known Great Depression) and 1974.

The Great Recession, which started during 2008, caused a dramatic economic downturn in economic activity, affected significantly national economies, in which fiscal policies turned to strict austerity policies. Although the crisis was developed outside the labor market, several disorders in the labor market have been created, within the framework of national economies that characterized of multiple economical transformations and social changes. The above happened, since labor is a source of wealth and without workers, resources cannot be transformed into finished goods and services cannot be delivered. Consequently, the economic downturn transformed the world of labor and labor market, because of austerity measures and its relevant austerity policies (Alesina, Favero, & Giavazzi, 2019; Theodoropoulou, 2018), along with job losses, which became major sources of economic instability (Hout, Levanon, & Cumberworth, 2011). The universality of the crisis, it will give the opportunity to evaluate differences in the way in which labor markets respond to such phenomena that may originated elsewhere.

Focusing on the labor market is of vital importance, because labor force constitutes an important factor, which influences the development prospects in changing economic and social environments. The most significant global social changes in the labor market, along with the welfare crisis, have essentially influenced the lives of youth, which is one of the main demographic groups that constitute the labor force. Besides that, non-participation in the labor market constitutes an important factor for high levels of low self-esteem, poverty and social exclusion.

It is of paramount importance to understand the situation of young individuals that are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET), especially at those labor markets, in which the economy is under of austerity terms. Representative examples are the advanced economies of the European Union and in particular recession-hit Southern European Union countries, like Greece. These are all issues that great attention is needed, as young individuals continue to feel the aftermath of the economic crisis, on their individual employment trajectories and lives in general. The growth of NEETs may present a more difficult policy challenge than unemployment, as it represents persistent disconnection from the labor market as well as the society in general (Bell & Blanchflower, 2015). NEET group members are strongly affected by exclusion and marginalization because problematic labor market entries have sustainable effects on later employment careers or life courses in general. Consequently, it is critical to understand that those individuals who belong to NEET group are considered as outsiders, facing a “double disadvantage”, first as youth and then as unemployed and inactive.

The main research question is the following:

  • What is the situation of young individuals, who are NEETs, in the European Union and Greece?

The above question is extremely crucial especially in the context of European Union, not only because of the crisis, but also because of its “Europe 2020” strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth that commits to fostering high levels of employment (in numerical terms the target is the achievement of 75% employment for individuals from 20 to 64 years old), in order to achieve a dynamic labor market, together with a high quality and productive workforce (Papadopoulou, 2017a).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Crisis: A time of intense difficulty, especially in the field of economy.

Great Recession: A period of economic downturn, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Education: The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

Europe 2020: The Europe 2020 is a ten-year strategy of the European Union’s agenda for growth and jobs for the current decade. It emphasizes smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Labor Force: All the members of a particular organization or country, who are able to work, viewed collectively.

Unemployment: The state of being unemployed, without working.

ISCED: The International Standard Classification of Education is the reference international classification for organizing education programmes and related qualifications by levels and fields.

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